If not for the Tree Huggers of today, do it for the Ankle Biters of tomorrow

by Dylan Chung on February 19, 2014

multiracial-group-of-kids-with-globe1

Children are the only future the human race has

happychildren2     Growing up in the city, I’m used to walking amongst the busy streets, smelling the city smells and buying my groceries at the supermarket. As a child I never questioned why the city smelled like fumes or where the fruits and vegetables I ate came from. Whether or not any of it was dangerous to me never even crossed my mind. I had no way of knowing any better, even if you tried to explain it to me. It’s been said that children are our future, and so it’s up to us as adults to make sure the future is an environmentally safe place for them to live in. Aside from this, we need to recognize that while they may the leaders of tomorrow, they are the children of today. In today’s world there are environmental issues ranging from pollution, to diseases and man-made toxins. These hazards arise as the result of climate, industry, agriculture, region diseases, and natural disasters.

     The fact of the matter with these risks is that children are more susceptible to such toxins and sickness, because their immune system and organs are still developing. Also, is the fact that proportionally children consume more food and water comparable to their body weight, which only increases the possibility that they can have an allergic reaction to a pesticide or develop a sickness due to consuming contaminated water. These toxins can lead to cognitive, physiological and behavioral developmental issues which are most often irreversible. One must take extra precautions to ensure that children are kept safe from such harmful environmental factors; unlike conscious adults, very few children are aware or educated of the potential risks their environment may pose to their safety. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), environmental diseases linked to unsanitary water sources, unsafe use of pesticides and chemicals, inadequate food supply, pollution and insects account for the majority of all environmental sickness; children are the most susceptible. Studies done by the World health organization have found that “each year around three million children under the age of five die due to environment-related diseases. Among these diseases, approximately 1.6 million children under the age of five die due to acute respiratory infections and of those acute respiratory diseases about 60% are related to environmental conditions.” These are only a few of the countless diseases which can be attributed to environmental conditions.

The two strategies to combat the above problems involve raising awareness and developing programs to prevent and diminish environmental hazards. Interventions to improve children’s environmental health include improving general primary healthcare and emergency response, implementing educational programs about environmental safety, and making an effort to reduce the amount of pollution and toxic waste being cast into the environment. This way both we can hope that both children and adults are aware of these environmental hazards and that children can avoid them while the older generation seeks to resolve them.

While I may not have grown up worried that my home’s tap water might be contaminated, children across the world don’t have access to such luxuries as purified water. It is especially necessary to ensure that educational programs focus on the most prevalent health hazard in that region. Industrial cities must focus on pollution and contraction of diseases, regions with unclean water and little access to sanitary institutions need to focus on cleanliness and cross contamination. No matter what it is, these issues must be resolved in unison with the youth because this is the only way to make a better today and this is our only hope to promise a better tomorrow.

 

WHO | Global Plan of Action for Children’s Health and the Environment. (n.d.). World Health Organization. Retrieved February 5, 2014, from http://www.who.int/ceh/en/index.html


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